Thiokol Corp. had good news last week: The Atlantis space shuttle had a picture-perfect launch with Thiokol boosters, and the company won two new Defense Department contracts, worth nearly $50 million.
Atlantis took off Thursday on a military spy mission, roaring away from Florida with the help of the redesigned solid rocket motors built by Thiokol in Utah. They are the largest such motors made in the world."It is also the world's only segmented solid rocket motor designed to be retrieved after a flight," said Steve Lawson, manager of public relations for the Ogden-based company. The motor is designed to be retrieved after a flight, refurbished, and reused as many as 20 times.
Each motor consumes almost 5 tons of propellant per second, burning 1.1 million pounds in 120 seconds.
One new Defense Department contract is to manufacture 533 more Standard MK-104 missiles, with a completion date of September 1992. The missiles are used on Navy ships for air defense.
Upon completion of this $36.9 million contract, Thiokol will have manufactured almost 5,000 of the missiles.
The second contract is to construct 22,828 illumination flares. The $9.6 million contract is to be completed by October 1991.
"The flares, each weighing approximately 11 pounds, are designed to be launched by rocket, from helicopter or tactical aircraft," said Lawson. "Upon release a parachute deploys, and the flare ignites to provide 1 million candlepower of light."
The blaze can light up a battlefield or help with night search and rescue missions. Each flare burns for two minutes.
So far, Thiokol has produced about 68 million flares and pyrotechnic devices for the U.S. government and allied nations, he added.